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A Q&A with our CEO

January 22, 2016

The following responses originally appeared in The Daily Nonpareil article "Tulipana's vision guides Iowa West Foundation's direction" published on Dec. 17, 2015. They are being reprinted here with permission from The Daily Nonpareil. 

1) Looking back over the past three years, what do you consider your greatest personal accomplishment?

I am very proud of the work we have done to increase our transparency and work in partnership with the community.  Our strategic planning process including the grantee perception report was the most comprehensive effort to date to listen to what the community and our grantees felt was important.  That effort has driven the work of the foundation over the past four years.  I am also proud of the process we have established to engage the community in determining the specific areas to focus on within our four key areas, (Economic Development, Placemaking, Education and Healthy Families). We have routinely set up task forces to engage community leaders in this process. Our shift to focus our work in a proactive manner to have greater impact through our initiatives is something that I am also very proud of and I believe it is making a significant difference in the community.

2) Looking at that same three-year period, what do you consider your greatest disappointment?

It is always challenging to lead an organization where everyone is extremely vested and is watching and judging.  What is particularly disappointing to me is when inaccurate information is spread throughout the community.  We try to encourage people to visit our website and call us if they have questions or concerns, but frequently I hear about these kinds of things through the grapevine.

Also, we are working on an Arts Initiative, and that initiative has had several changes which have slowed the progress down.  That process has been a disappointment but we are committed to pursuing a resolution that will achieve the communities’ goals. 

3) One of the "critical responsibilities" facing the Foundation is imparting the understanding that organizations and governmental entities cannot become too dependent on IWF's financial support. How successful has that effort been?

We have made a good start on this effort.  The challenge is that this effort requires an approach based on the unique needs of each organization.  We are encouraging organizations to look beyond the IWF and to commit to being proactive in identifying funding sources that will leverage our resources.  Some are better prepared and more open to this than others.   This is important for many reasons the most obvious being that when our resources are leveraged than additional investments can happen in the community.  When needed and wanted we have offered professionals to work with the organizations in a capacity building effort.  We believe that very small, one person organizations have an extremely difficult time accomplishing their missions. One individual cannot successfully manage, program, fundraise etc.  To address this, we have invited organizations in different sectors to a conversation about partnering in a way that makes the potential for success much greater.

4) What do you see as the greatest successes in each of the Foundation's focus areas (economic development, education, placemaking and healthy families)?

Education:  The launching of the Pottawattamie Promise.  This effort has the potential to change the lives of young people and their families and build a better educated future workforce. Another education success includes our work to engage Omaha foundations to invest in the CB School District's new athletic stadium.

Economic Development:  The Riverfront development and the Mid-America Center initiatives, along with our commitment to partner with the city on West Broadway.  I believe over time these efforts will be a catalyst for huge change in Council Bluffs.

Placemaking: Much of the work mentioned in Economic Development is also about placemaking. Our concentration on trails, recreation and streetscape is all a part of that effort.  While our neighborhood work has had its stops and starts I believe we are poised to greatly enhance our efforts in this area.

Healthy Families:  Two efforts in this area are extremely important. First, we have clarified that our focus area for funding of human services is only in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County.  While we recognize that there are many needs in Omaha, because of the tremendous need here we are not funding in the area of healthy families (human services) outside of the immediate area. We also have launched a pilot on multi-year funding in the area of healthy families. 

5) Do you see Foundation initiatives as being successful in creating a more sharing and productive culture in the region?

I do see the initiative process as extremely successful. Keep in mind that what we choose to work on is based on the comprehensive community input and in partnership with community leaders.  We have worked hard to dispel the old notion that we act in isolation.  We hope that this process over time will build a more sharing and productive culture in the region.

6) Looking forward to 2016, what would you most like to accomplish or, at a minimum, see well underway in 2016?

IWF is committed to doing everything we can to ensure that our efforts at the Riverfront, Mid-America Center and West Broadway are successful.  We will be announcing a new Community Development Consortium in early 2016 that we believe will have a tremendous impact on our work in housing, which is one of our priority areas.  We are working with local and regional partners to place an incubator project on the Iowa side of the river and we will be working to launch the new arts Initiative.

featurebin_image.jpgPete Tulipana, President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation

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